Friday, July 29, marked the 35th anniversary of the infamous ‘Son of Sam’ Murders in New York. In July of 1976 (during one of the most painful heat-waves New York City had ever seen) an unidentified man approached a vehicle with two young women and inexplicably opened fire – one was killed instantly the other, though wounded, survived. The crime was a mystery to law enforcement – with practically no physical evidence and no apparent motive, the case quickly grew stale. In October of that year a similar crime, where the victims were two lovers shot and wounded (with no casualties) in their parked vehicle in Queens, prompted both law enforcement and the press to identify the behavior with a “Serial Killer,” terrifying the inhabitants of New York City. For more than a year, the city watched helplessly as the death toll climbed to six people.
The infamous “Son of Sam” letter, written to then NYPD Captain Borelli, was ultimately leaked to press, replete with spelling errors and odd ramblings, serving only to further stoked the fires of fear that gripped New York.
I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemon hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the “Son of Sam.” I am a little “brat”. When father Sam gets drunk he gets mean. He beats his family. Sometimes he ties me up to the back of the house. Other times he locks me in the garage. Sam loves to drink blood. “Go out and kill” commands father Sam. Behind our house some rest. Mostly young — raped and slaughtered — their blood drained — just bones now. Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic, too. I can’t get out but I look out the attic window and watch the world go by. I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wave length then everybody else — programmed too kill. However, to stop me you must kill me. Attention all police: Shoot me first — shoot to kill or else. Keep out of my way or you will die! Papa Sam is old now. He needs some blood to preserve his youth. He has had too many heart attacks. Too many heart attacks. “Ugh, me hoot it urts sonny boy.” I miss my pretty princess most of all. She’s resting in our ladies house but I’ll see her soon. I am the “Monster” — “Beelzebub” — the “Chubby Behemouth.” I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game — tasty meat. The wemon of Queens are z prettyist of all. I must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt — my life. Blood for papa. Mr. Borrelli, sir, I dont want to kill anymore no sir, no more but I must, “honour thy father.” I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don’t belong on Earth. Return me to yahoos. To the people of Queens, I love you. And I wa want to wish all of you a happy Easter. May God bless you in this life and in the next and for now I say goodbye and goodnight. Police — Let me haunt you with these words; I’ll be back! I’ll be back! To be interrpretedas — bang, bang, bang, bank, bang — ugh!! Yours in murder Mr. Monster — Courtesy of Wikipedia
It wasn’t until August of 1977 that New York City Law Enforcement announced the arrest of 24 year old postal worker, David Berkowitz for the ‘Son of Sam’ crimes. The case was an international sensation and David became a household name. He claimed that he committed the murders at the prompting of his neighbor’s Black Labrador Retriever (whom he claimed was possessed by the devil). He even attempted to kill the beast a few times – once shooting it with the same .44 calibre gun he used to commit the murders.
Berkowitz confessed to the crimes and was sentenced to multiple life sentences (he still sits in prison in the state of New York). Due to the sensationalized nature of the case and multiple attempts to purchase David’s story, many states (including New York) passed “Son of Sam Laws” that prohibits criminals from profiting from their crimes – such as selling their story to a publisher or a journalist.
To commemorate the Son of Sam Murders, MSNBC has posted a video clip with some original footage and interviews – including with the lead detective of the case. If you’re interested in Serial Killer Lore or Social History in American, it’s a great view.